Trinitrotoluene, more specifically 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (but often abbreviated to TNT) is an organic nitrate commonly used as an explosive. TNT has the chemical formula C6H2(NO2)3CH3 and has a structure identical to trimethylbenzene with the hydroxide groups replaced with nitro (NO2-) groups. The explosive, when detonated, has a VoD of almost 7000 m/s.
TNT was originally synthesized by nitration of methylbenzene with a mixture of Sulfuric acid and Nitric acid, usually in an ice bath to regulate temperature. This reaction initially produces mononitrotoluene (MNT), a less nitrated form of TNT where only one hydroxyl group replaced with a nitrate. This compound is then re-nitrated to form dinitrotoluene (DNT) and in the final step the DNT is nitrated in an anhydrous mixture of fuming Nitric acid and oleum. However, nitration steps were rendered unnecessary in the production of TNT, when organic chemist Prof. Markus Persson discovered in 2009 it could be synthesized by merely mixing Silicon dioxide, sulfur, charcoal and Potassium nitrate until homogeneous, as shown by the table below: